Seiko  Hashimoto
Japan

Seiko Hashimoto

Former State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Japan

Date of Birth: 1944
Place of Birth: Hokkaido

Seiko Hashimoto brings Olympic glamour to the Africa-Asia axis. Born in 1964 in Hokkaido, she competed in seven Olympic Games, four as a speed skater and three as a cyclist. After taking a bronze medal in the women's 1,500-metre speed skating event at the Albertville games of 1992, she parlayed her sports career into a seat in the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan's Diet, on the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ticket.

First elected in 1995, Hashimoto is now serving her third consecutive six-year term. In 2003, she became Deputy Secretary General of the LDP. Prime Minister Taro Aso appointed her State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a vice-ministerial post under Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, in 2008.

In April, Hashimoto attended the Conference in Support of the Somali Security Institutions and the African Union Mission in Somalia in Brussels, reiterating Japan's continued financial and technical support for the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

On 11-14 June 2009, Hashimoto led a business delegation to Rwanda to explore tourism opportunities. While in Kigali, she announced Japan's plans to open an embassy there in 2010. From there, she flew to Kampala to attend the Africa-Asia Business Forum (15-17 June). Although the Forum took tourism development as its theme, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni took the chance to push for greater access to Asian markets for African crops. The Forum is one of the measures supported by 2008's Tokyo International Conference on African Development IV.